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Lance Cpl. Justin Shockley with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, operates a hand saw aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, that will go into constructing structures aboard the camp.

Photo by Cpl. Robert S. Morgan

Logistics Marines keep 'two feet in four ditches'

18 Feb 2010 | Gunnery Sgt. Katesha Washington

One of the most supportive units in the Marine Corps has an operational tempo that metaphorically keeps their "two feet in four ditches" at all times.  While more than 4,000 Marines and sailors ended a yearlong deployment to Iraq in December 2009, more Marines from the group left for Afghanistan and eventually Haiti in January.  

Today, the 2nd MLG has approximately 1,902 Marines and sailors deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 260 Marines and sailors deployed to Haiti providing humanitarian assistance, 200 still serving in Iraq and 9,391 preparing to deploy.  Brig. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, commanding general, 2nd MLG, said that although the high operational tempo has caused his Marines and sailors to be on alert at times, he is confident that the 2nd MLG would be able to support if they were called on again.

"I always stress the importance of taking care of Marines and sailors and preparing them for the next conflict," he said. "That is why we always have forces ready to go and ready to support."

The majority of Marines and sailors within the MLG have deployed at least once; some, like the general, have deployed up to 5 times.  But Ayala knows that the experience he has amongst those under his command is invaluable and will continue to be an asset as the U.S. calls on Marines to provide logistics support in the future.

"We have a very experienced force - a lot of combat veterans who have been to Iraq, been to Afghanistan and some who have been back to Afghanistan numerous times or going back in the future. We've proven our ethos time and again that we will always be warriors sustaining warriors." Ayala said.

For Sgt. Maj. Efren Z. Whitehead, sergeant major, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, one particular mission stands out that exemplifies the group's motto of "Excellence, Innovation, Quality - Warriors sustaining Warriors."

On Oct. 19, 2009, Operation Bennehar kicked off in northern Afghanistan and involved supporting an infantry unit with resupply convoys, combat outpost improvements, establishing entry control points and elevated guard posts. 

Whitehead said his Marines and sailors were involved in contact with the enemy on many occasions but were not deterred and continued to support the outlying units and accomplish their mission.

"The support that they [Marines and sailors] provided to the units throughout Afghanistan's Helmand Province was absolutely amazing. The young officers and enlisted Marines really stepped up to the plate and led their junior Marines with total confidence during many dangerous and austere missions." He explained. "It [was] certainly a privilege and an honor working with the warriors of the 8th ESB."

As OEF continues in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom winds down, Marines and sailors of the 2nd MLG maintain a constant state of readiness for future operations.  Sgt. James D. Mitchell, with Engineer Support Company, 8th ESB, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan four times and understands what it means to always be operationally ready. 

"It means that we need to be mentally and physically ready with all of our gear up to standards and to have the capability to move proficiently and timely.  This has been proven in our recent support of the humanitarian mission in Haiti." Mitchell noted.

Being expeditionary was crucial to the timely deployment of troops after the massive earthquake in Haiti.  When the ground stopped moving in the Caribbean country, it took only days for Marines to arrive and provide humanitarian relief.  It is that ability to deploy around the globe at a moment's notice which Ayala wants to perpetuate in his warfighters.

"I was reminded of the importance of keeping Marines and sailors ready to go on a moment's notice, when one day I went to Cherry Point to welcome home folks from Iraq and then came back here to send off Marines and sailors to Afghanistan. I went around the corner and was saying goodbye to folks going to Haiti." Ayala said. "So I am immensely proud of the Marines and sailors of the 2nd MLG and what they are doing, what they have done and what they will accomplish in the future."

           


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